Five weeks after a black bear died at the Ecomuseum, her sister and mother have also been euthanized.

Zookeepers say Suzie, at age 28, had been suffering from declining health and started losing "significant" muscle tone, while her 22-year-old daughter Marge was suffering from osteoarthritis.

In a written statement Dr. Sarah-Annie Guenette said that medication was no longer enough to ensure the animals could have their pain controlled.

“Those bears were 2-3 times the average life expectancy of a black bear, so beyond a certain point, the body just can't function anymore,” said Ecomuseum executive director David Rodrigue.

In late October the Ecomuseum had to euthanize Homer, also 22, who was having difficulty moving because of arthritis.

“I guess we could classify them as geriatric in many ways. The same kinds of problems humans have when they reach that age,” said Rodrigue.

In the wild black bears normally live for ten to 12 years.

Suzie arrived at the Ecomuseum in Ste. Anne de Bellevue in 1985 as an orphaned cub, and she gave birth to Marge and Homer in 1991.

“For black bears most of the time it's cases where the animals are orphaned. The female is struck on the road by a car, and… the babies spend the first year with their mother and they learn, so once the female is removed and the male is not there anymore, they just can't survive. So that's usually how it happens for black bears,” explained Rodrigue.

The deaths have been tough on those that worked with the animals, he added.

“The staff was very attached to the bears, and the bears were very attached to the staff as well, and it makes it very difficult,” he said.

The Ecomuseum has plans to eventually take in new black bears, possibly as early as the spring.